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Our May 2006 Trip Report and Pic Link

Old Jun 9th, 2006, 08:48 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 117
Our May 2006 Trip Report and Pic Link

*Our trip through 5 different countries and 4 Currencies*
This is the first time I've gotten to post since we got back on the May 31st. Some of the 25 Gigs of photos we took are here. (Yes carting the laptop around proved to be a very good idea) http://tysonfultz.smugmug.com/gallery/1521530. Iím still working on a lot of the post processing so I will be posting more and some that are posted still need a bit of tweaking but Iím happy with them. My wife ended up taking the photo of the trip on her first day of shooting with the SLRÖ

We had a wonderful time in on our trip to Switzerland, Italy and a quick stopover in London via Germany. We rented 3 different apartments in our main stops of Venice (http://www.palazzettodaschio.it/), Positano (Casa Clementia from Summer in Italy) and Rome (http://www.dolceroma.com/). All 3 were absolutely perfect and all 3 came highly recommended. We've had very good luck with apartment rentals before and this trip was no exception.

May 10th- The flight on United from SFO to Dulles, Dulles to Zurich was pretty uneventful other than me drinking too much of the complimentary drinks in business class and feeling like I had a hangover somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic. The Dulles Red Carpet club was pretty dirty and the attendants didnít seem to want too offer any type of help. The United flight crew on both legs were very nice, the seats were very comfortable and the food wasnít too bad either.

May 11-12-Zurich was completely under construction but turned out to be a nice place to sleep off the jet lag. The Arlette Am Hauptbahnhof Hotel was very nice, clean and quiet with the most comfortable beds and pillows of the entire trip. The Cisalpino to Milan, ES* to Venice was extremely efficient although I got a little motion sick on the Cisalpino. The Swiss countryside is exactly as beautiful as I had always imagined it to be. We met a nice Swiss couple who had traveled to the US and had a really interesting perspective of Reno, NV. Apparently a lot of Swiss go there to get a divorce even though it's not legally accepted in Switzerland. Jeans, T-shirts and of all things, Chuck Taylor Converse shoes were the height of fashion in Zurich. My 6 year old grandson would have fit in perfectly.

May 12-18 Venice was Venice...An absolute dream. It was very crowded around San Marco and the Rialto but still the best city in the world to explore on foot and we managed to explore all the Sestieris plus Burano. Burano is the place where color photographers can catch a glimpse of heaven. I can see why someone on a daytrip would get a bad impression of Venice due to the crowds but they are easily avoided and there are so many interesting places to explore. Our favorite Sestieri turned out to be the Canareggio. It still had the feel of a working Venice without the crowds completely swamping the place. The area between Santa Croce and St Tomas seemed downright deserted on a Sunday evening and a newer style movie theater was completely boarded up. Weíve now spent a total of 12 days in Venice and we still havenít taken a gondola ride (lotís of traghetto rides though) or visited the Accademia. New York Yankees hats, jeans, IPODs and D&G belts were what the local fashion conscious wore.

The Venetians tended to ignore the tourists and seem to have an aire of 'disdain' for the whole thing. They are very proud and a bit melancholy over what Venice has become but at the same time are extremely patient and tend to be very well versed in Veniceís history. The Contessa da Schio was a very interesting historian and we met a few people on the way that also gave some interesting perspectives. The Venetians still harbor a pretty good grudge against the Turks, which led to some very interesting anecdotes, which I canít wait to relay to my Turkish friends. The Venetians seem to be in agreement that the 6-hour cruise ship influxes are also a bad thing. The cruise ship passengers donít tend to spend money on eating (and obviously not spending money on lodging), donít really patronize the higher end shops and the injection of 6000+ people at a time ends up clogging up everything.

May 19th-We ended up missing our train to Napoli because of a Vaparretto strike that Ďcausedí our water taxi that we reserved 2 days before showed up an hour late (yesÖit's Italy). We ended up having to take the IC through to Naples from Venice, it was completely packed once we hit Bolonga and we ended up getting in about 2300 instead of 2100 for about a 9 Ĺ hour ride. The Best Western Paradiso was very nice and the staff was extremely helpful and Napoli is more beautiful and even more chaotic than I imagined it would be.

May 20th-May 27th-We used Marcello (338-338-1828, [email protected]) for the transfer from Napoli to Positano. Not cheap but very informative and on the way back we stopped by the San Marco Villa in Stabiae which was one of the highlights of our trip. Incredible place and we were the only tourists to visit it in the last 3 days according to the logbook. Sadly, it's not been excavated since the fifties and there are literally thousands of priceless items just laying around in milk crates. If you are interested in seeing the off the beaten path places around Naples and the Amalfi Coast, Marcello is your man.

Summer in Italy was a very good company to work with and our host was very nice. The apartment had a view to die for as you can see in the pictures. It was the perfect size for the two of us. Going to bed and waking up to Positanoís view was a pleasure all in itself. Positano and the Amalfi Coast ended up being our favorite place and ended up being probably the best week I've ever spent on this planet even though we didn't do much touring except for seeing Pompeii and Ravello. The public transportation was very cramped and crowded but the weather was perfect. We didnít feel the need to leave Positano at all. The food was amazing and we made some really good friends as you can see in our pictures. We rented a Zodiac boat and cruised the coastline for my birthday. A little rough but seeing the coast from the sea was spectacular.

May 27th-May 30th We ended up booking the new high-speed train from Naples to Rome first class since it was cheaper than the regular ES* as they had a 2-1 special. Very nice, clean and quick. You could tell Trenitalia were going out of their way to promote it. They had a person at every door and in every carriage.

The apartment in Rome was beautiful. Ms Bianchi, the owner, hand painted all the artwork and the tromp l'oeil on the walls. She spent a lot of time going over the sites to see and even brought us a welcome basket with coffee and some biscuits. The apartment was gorgeous and quiet despite being next door to the Cavour Metro. The location was great but the restaurants in the area were hit or miss to say the least. Roma Vecchio was great and it seemed like it was an honor to get a seat there since the owner kind of picked and chose who he wanted to serve. For whatever reason he liked us and we ate there all three nights except Sunday when he was closed. Rome itself was overcrowded. Easily 10x the crowds from our last visit in 2003 and the Romans were getting a little short on patience and a few seemed like they were going out of their way to be rude. Understandable considering their city has pretty much been taken over by tourists. When the heck did Caravaggio become such a household name in that everyone who stepped off the plane just had to see him? It seemed 2003 we were the only people aside from the clergy and a few worshippers in the most of the smaller churches. This trip we were lucky to even catch a glimpse of a painting before being shoved out of the way.

We took the Scavi tour the last day in Rome and it was better than what we had heard and we were going in with the highest of hopes...Simply amazing. The crowds going in to see Pope John II's tomb were literally out of control and the best show in Rome was watching the Swiss Guard handling the crowd.

May 30th-May31st-We flew from FCO to LHR via Frankfurt and spent the last night with a 23-hour layover in London. Weíve had less than nice customs and immigrations officers in Germany on past trips but in Frankfurt the immigration officer was all smiles, spoke to my wife and I in perfect Spanish when he saw that she was originally from New Mexico and even wished me a belated birthday. I guess the World Cup has got everyone in a good mood London was great but about 55 degrees and we packed our jackets through to SFO from Rome... We took the big tour bus around and had a couple of pints in a pub. It was amazing contrast to see how different England is to Italy. In Italy, every tourist seems to walk around in a constant state of confusion since things are rarely marked, no one is really around to help. In London, everything was well marked and someone was always nearby to help. Iím sure speaking the native language also helped. The Heathrow Express was great but really expensive considering the pound to the dollar. We stayed at the Quality Crown in Paddington. New and nicely furnished but the rooms were small even by European standards. It would have been hard to find a place for our luggage.

21 days was a really good amount of time to travel. Around day 18 we were stressing about our vacation ending but by day 21 we we're ready to go home although coming back to reality and work is definitely not the same as a day on the beach in Positano.
cadillac1234 is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2006, 09:39 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 2,630
aaaahhhh...for me it was visiting Italy on a Saturday afternoon! Great pictures. Whoever is taking the pictures has an artful eye.
The report was fun as well.
Thank you!
SuzieC is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2006, 10:38 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 932
Great trip report and beautiful pictures!! What did you use to 'post process' the pictures? I just bought the Canon Rebel XT SLR .. and love great photos .. I'm still in the process of learning how to take great pictures .. but am curious as to how you processed them .. photoshop elements? Thanks!
katzen is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2006, 11:12 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
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Awesome photos. Thanks so much.
cobbie is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2006, 11:25 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 152
Your photos are wonderful. I want to be in Venice right this minute.
kagoo is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2006, 07:32 AM
  #6  
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Posts: 117
Thanks for the comments on the photos everyone!

Three things I forgot to add to the orignal post:

1. First day in Venice turned into an ATM nightmare courtesy of the Poste Italia ATM. We tried to withdraw 300 Euro from the machine. It came back with a broken English repsonse of 'No money on this transaction' and then wouldn't accept the card again. We figured the that the machine was out of money and tried a Bancomat down the street. The Bancomat machine came back with a 'Over the limit' and a 'No money available in the account' message. After frantic phone calls to Wells Fargo who said they saw no transactions at all in Europe they raised my daily withdrawl limit to $1000 for 15 minutes and we ran as fast as we could to the ATM (about a 14 minute walk) and got out 250 Euro. The next day I saw that the Italian Post ATM charged me a $389 US charge but gave me no money. After another 45 minutes worth of calls to Wells Fargo they said they would place an inquiry and I got the money back in my account in about a week.

The ATM machines make it seem like you can withdraw more than 250 Euros at a time (some even having a 280 Euro withdraw button) but any time we tried to it would say we were over the limit and would deny the transaction.

2. If you need a good restaurant in Positano walk a little farther to Formillo's Beach and stop by Lo Guarracino. Best pizza I've ever had (and I know my pizza) and a very friendly family runs the place. The made a special heart shaped pizza for us our last night. http://www.tysonfultz.smugmug.com/ga...3329750/Medium

3. The Roma Pass was well worth it if you are going to see the Colloseum or the Pallatine Hill anyways. It's only 7 euro more than the regular addmission and you get a 3 day transport card plus addmision to 1 other museum and discounts to others. In typical Italian fashion no one ever checked our card to validate it or even really pretended to know what the heck it was the entire time we were there but let us in to whatever it was supposed to cover.


cadillac1234 is offline  
Old Jun 18th, 2006, 10:14 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,288
Your photos are just wonderful!

Thank you so much for sharing them with me. My pics from Venice were not too good, so I will pretend these are mine!

HappyCheesehead is offline  
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